Animal lovers warn consumers about heartworm pill

Author: Amy Davis, Investigative Reporter/Consumer Expert, adavis@kprc.com
Published On: Nov 19 2013 06:49:02 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 19 2013 07:00:00 PM CST
HOUSTON -

Animal lovers are warning other consumers about a drug they say is hurting, even killing dogs. The drug is called Trifexis. It's a 3-in-1 tablet that prevents heartworms, fleas and other parasites; but some people think it's making their dogs sick.

"She just wouldn't even lift her head hardly," said Laura Pooler about her dog Chloe.  "She was so bad and just...she would have the diarrhea. It was just pure blood at that point. You know, I thought I was gonna lose her."

Chloe is better now, but Pooler says the way her dog felt hours after her monthly dose of Trifexis concerned her enough to speak up.

"I just think everybody needs to be aware of it," she told Local 2 Consumer Expert Amy Davis.

Pooler is not alone. More than 2600 people have "liked" a Facebook page called "Trifexis kills dogs" where pet owners are posting pictures of their pets and stories about their dog's symptoms after taking the drug.

"It's the exact same symptoms that we went through," Pooler said.  

Trifexis' parent company, Elanco, owned by Eli Lilley, says vomiting is a side effect of the drug in some dogs. They sent us a taped response to our questions.

"We track these reports," said Elanco's director of veterinary services Dr. Steve Connell. "We investigate them as appropriate. And everything that's reported to us is required to be reported to the FDA where they evaluate these reports as well."

Local 2 checked and discovered pet owners have filed more than 3,000 complaints to the Food and Drug Administration; 2,200 reports of the drug causing dogs to vomit. There are 600 cases of lethargy, and 31 reports of dog deaths; but local veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Hennessey says the numbers are misleading. 

"It does seem like a lot," said Hennessey. "When there's 50 million doses that have been given in three years when this product came out, that 3,000 is actually not significant."

Still, Pooler says she'll switch Chloe to another heartworm medication.

"Why take the chance?" she asked.  "I mean there's so many numerous complaints out there, and animals effected, that it's just not worth taking the chance."

If your dog gets sick and you suspect Trifexis, you should report it to your vet and to the FDA.